Sunday, 24 February 2013

17 - 10 weeks Contest Prep

As of today I’m 10 weeks out from my first Men’s Physique show. I started my prep from 2nd January, after a solid 9 weeks of lean gains and working on my weak areas before Christmas using the Y3T program and adjusting my nutritional intake accordingly. The reason why I starting my prep so early (17 weeks out) was to slowly cut whilst maintaining as much muscle mass as possible, If I’d made the decision to cut from now at 10 weeks out it would be a much harsher cut on my body and would guaranteed result in a loss in muscle as well as body fat.

So what is Mens Physique?
Mens Physique is more about that fitness model/beach body look so too much muscle is marked down. Theres also not as many poses as a regular bodybuilding class and competitors wear board shorts as oppose to posing trunks or thong.

2012 is the first time a Mens Physique class will be introduced to the UK qualifiers for the UKBFF, it was first launched 2 years ago in America (think Steve Cook) and has grown so big its now featured in the 2013 Olympia. I'll be competing in the North West qualifier on Sunday 5th May, once all qualifiers have taken place both 1st and 2nd place from each qualifier compete in the National final at Sportex in October, where they'll have the chance to compete for an IFBB Pro card. The chances of the pro card being awarded to a Mens Physique competitor is highly unlikely though as they only hand out 1 pro card each year out of all the bodybuilding categories and always goes to a 'proper' bodybuilder.

I decided to compete this year as I love hitting the gym and seeing my body develop from the skinny kid I used to be, and thought rather than just going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym why not add that end goal so I have something to work towards and as you know from my previous article its made me more focused as a result of that. I also choose the Mens Physique class as my body type is an Ectomorph, so I naturally stay lean, have a high metabolism and struggle to add muscle mass.

I'm not going to lie I am nervous about stepping on stage for the first time and not knowing what to expect and yeah I could say that I'll be happy where ever I place but then whats the point in taking part at all with that mind set!? I've set this goal, I'm working harder than ever and I'm coming for that number one spot!!

Steve Cook #Swoldier

The last 7 Weeks
So over the last 7 weeks I’ve noticed a difference in my conditioning and that’s resulted firstly from my nutrition, I know there’s different protocols out there and different things work for different people but I find carb cycling works best for me. It’s something I’ve used in the past to get me in shape for photo shoots and holidays so it was always going to be the route I was going down. I originally started off with a split of low and high carb days and have recently introduced medium carb days into the mix as well. I have factored 2 refeed days during the cut and if you follow me on twitter you would have seen the X-Large dominos pizza I had and almond cheese cake after a ridiculous legs session!

And secondly from my training, having seeing such success on Neil Young’s Y3T program and considering I’m slowly dropping my calories my training split was week 1-Y3T, week 2 Y3T and week 3 DTP then repeat. The first two weeks were based on hitting different muscle switch fibres to try and maintain and even slightly increase strength, the third week was gruelling and added to really target body fat, if you haven’t heard of DTP before check it out on the web site and give it a try. It really does get your heart rate going, pouring in sweat, digging deeper than usual and feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus at the end of it.........but it’s all worth it!

I’ll talk more in depth about my nutrition and training in articles closer to my show, for now I just wanted to briefly touch on my progression so far. Here’s a comparison pic from the morning I started the cut until this morning, bang on 10 weeks out.

82kg (17 weeks out) - 76.2kg (10 weeks out)

Leg comparison 

Back comparison

As my final weeks get closer I will be working with a coach that also competes so understands fully what I’m going through both physically and mentally. I’ve decided to do this not only because its my first show and I want to pick his brain about what to expect, tanning, posing etc but to also help make relevant tweaks in my final weeks as I felt I lost quite a bit of muscle when I experimented with fluid manipulation last year before my holiday.

I also have three photo shoots lined up around my show (with amazing photographers)  so I’ll be posting the pics up as soon as I have them and I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that’s tweeted me or sent me messages wishing me good luck in my show, I really do appreciate the support and look forward to sharing the rest of my prep with everyone!


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Find You 'Inner Switch'

I always see people posting pictures or statuses on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about being in “beast mode” and it seems to becoming more and more popular and is even now on gym clothing and spreading.

This particular phrase has never really appealed to me just like the difference in fitness magazines and their own target audience. For example I’d rather read Muscle & Fitness magazine with Steve Cook on the front rather than Flex magazine with someone screaming their head off on the front, just like some people would rather read a ‘men’s lifestyle’ magazine featuring Justin Bieber!

However since I made the decision to compete around November last year I have noticed I now train differently, and after thinking about why I’m training differently I've come to the conclusion that I've found my own 'inner switch' and setting the goal of competing has lit a fire inside me. I’m not saying I now scream and bang around the gym (I hate those guys) I just feel more focused on what I set out to achieve that day and on that particular body part I’m working. Looking back I found I started doing this firstly when I was working my weak areas (delts and lats) I’d find myself digging deeper and really pushing myself knowing that it’s my weak area and wanting to bring it up and outdo my competition on stage.

I've always been a fan of mind to muscle connection so I always emphasise that during training and aim to keep my muscles under as much tension as possible with controlled movements. Below are a few things that I find help me really focus during training and flick my inner switch.

Pre Workout supplements- I’m not the biggest fan of taking pre workout supplements for every session, as your body will adapt and get use to the stimulant and you’ll need more and more scoops as the week’s progress. If anything I’ll take one before a legs session and sometimes before a chest/back session on my heavy days. I’m personally a fan of Muscle Pharm Assault (Raspberry Lemonade is amazing).

Set Workout- Having a plan will always help you in all aspects of life, going into the gym just thinking “I’m going to train legs” isn't ideal, you want to have a set workout planned out, know what part of legs your targeting, how many reps your going for, how much weight you’re lifting to ensure you've improved from the week before. Read over it before you go into the gym, I print my workouts off at lunch time, read over them and read them again while I warm up on the cross trainer and stretching.

Clear Mind- Having less distractions in the gym will help you in more ways than just keeping you focused and preventing any form of injury for example. I also find the gym is also a great way to release the days frustrations and just get away from anything that’s on your mind and solely focus on yourself and personal goals.

Positive/Competitive Gym Partner- Having someone to train with always has its benefits, try to get someone that’s been lifting just as long as you and if they’re slightly stronger that’s perfect, no doubt you’ll be stronger in some areas yourself and that will motivate them with the competitiveness between you. Not only do you want to physically squeeze out 1 more rep or 2kg more than your training partner but visualise your competition too. That’s some I've started doing since I made the decision to compete however I have done the same in the past when it’s come to my Thai Boxing fights or grappling tournaments, again this is something you can apply to any sport or competition.

Music- You’d be surprised how many people only listen to music while they’re doing cardio, I used to be one of them up until 8 months ago and now I love the added intensity it gives me during a weights session. I’ll be writing another article in the next few weeks discussing more about the benefits of music while you train plus it helps with my next point too.

Less chit chat- You’re at the gym to train, NOT to socialise whether that’s messing around with friends or on your phone (normally updating Facebook statuses so everyone knows you’re in the gym!). I’m not saying don’t speak to anyone at the gym, just don’t get carried away during rest periods or sets. Keep them short, this adds intensity, keeps your heart rate up, shortens the chit chat and gets you in and out of the gym without wasting any time.

I hope this helps and I just thought it’s something I’d share considering I've noticed a difference in my training and focus. Try a few of the tips/techniques above and find your own inner switch!


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Protein Cookies

As you all know from my goals article and all my recent tweets I started my cutting diet 2nd January for my first show in May. I’ll explain more about my diet, training and progress in a separate article, however to help with sweet cravings during the cut I’ve added Dan Wheelers protein cookies into my diet and they’re amazing!! Dan’s a really good mate and motivational source to keep pushing myself to the next level. Below is the recipe to Dan Protein Cookies, adapt them to fit your own diet and enjoy.

40g Oats
50g Whey Protein (I’ve recently purchased Bodybuilding Warehouse
1 whole egg
66g egg whites (2 egg whites)
Tablespoon of cinnamon
10g-20g Nutella
50g Blueberries/Cherries

  • Mix all the dry ingredients (oats, whey protein and cinnamon) together in a bowl.
  • Add the whole egg and egg whites and mix together, depending on the consistency you might want to add a small amount of water.
  • Pre heat the oven to 200° then add the blueberries/ cherries to the mix and give it a final stir.
  • Spoon the mix onto a baking tray making either lots of small cookies or less thicker cookies.
  • Cook in the oven for around 15 minutes and once they’re done add the Nutella to the flat side of the cookie and enjoy.

55g Carbs
64g Protein
18g Fat

All the ingredients above are devised to fit our current cutting diet and depending on your own diet adjust accordingly. Let us know what you think of the cookies and what ingredients you used (I’m thinking of adding peanut butter next time) by either commenting below or sending me and Dan a tweet (@Lee_Malone or @danwheeler). Also make sure you check out Dans site for more recipes, useful information and lots of motivation from Dans own transformation-

Dan rocking his AestheticLifestyle vest #TeamAL